Wednesday, 18 February 2015

BDSM is fine if consensual right?


Subsequent to my previous blog about the Fifty Shades of Grey, I've been told by numerous people that I missed the mark because I focussed on BDSM rather than the  real issue which is the glorification of domestic abuse, which apparently this film is. Additionally, I was supposedly narrow minded and stuck in my ways because BDSM, if consensual, is completely fine. It might not be appealing to me, but it is fine if two grown adults consent to partake in it. So I was told.

Here is a sample of a couple of comments left on both my page and also on Restless Press's (which I write for):
"Not a well written article. You are on the right track though and I very much disagree with the book and movie. But with so much to choose from with his controlling, abusive behaviour outside of sex and you focus only on the BDSM? It just feels like you wasted an opportunity to get the message across properly."
And:
"It's not exposing kids to BDSM, that's the problem. BDSM is completely ethical. What this film is doing is glorifying abuse and then calling it BDSM, which is a thousand times worse." 
I wanted to share my thoughts on why I think BDSM, even if consensual, is not ethical and can not form part of an act of selfless love.

Firstly, what is BDSM? It is an acronym for bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, sadism and masochism.  

What is "ethical"? The Oxford Dictionary defines it as:
Morally good or correct 
OR 
Avoiding activities or organisations that do harm to people or the environment.  
Let's apply these definitions to BDSM to determine whether it is ethical and then discuss the idea of it supposedly being ok if consensual and enjoyed by those engaging in it.

Bondage and Discipline

Given bondage typically involves the physical restraint of a sexual partner, and discipline can typically involve mental and physical "punishment", these two aspects would seemingly be harmful to the recipient. Yes there might be consent but there is still harm inflicted. Therefore, bondage and discipline would not be ethical according to the above definition.

"You're so narrow minded Dom. There are many ways to love. Are you really saying I can't demonstrate my love through consensual BDSM?"

Yes I am, according to the love I know anyway. Why would anyone want to tie up and mentally and physically punish someone they love? It is an excuse, a great big lie, exclaimed in order play out selfish desires that provide a warped sexual pleasure at the expense of another's dignity. Harming someone, even if they consent to it, is a completely selfish way to gain sexual gratification. 

Dominance and submission

This is not so cut and dry. Does dominance and submission cause harm to people? Depends on what the person is submitting to, but if submitting to physical and mental punishment, yes, it is. Therefore, in this circumstance, it is not ethical. 

Is it loving? I wouldn't have thought dominating someone, especially in a way that provides physical or mental harm, is an act of self-giving love. How are you giving yourself to your partner lovingly if you're abusing or dominating them?

Sadism and masochism

Now the kicker. Sadism is defined in the Oxford Dictionary as:
The tendency to derive pleasure, especially sexual gratification, from inflicting pain, suffering or humiliation on others.
Inflicting pain and suffering on anyone is not morally good and does not fit the second strand of the definition due to the infliction of harm on someone else. 

Masochism is the opposite of sadism and takes place when someone derives sexual satisfaction through the suffering of pain or humiliation. 

Geez, gone are the days when standard missionary was sufficient enough to provide an orgasm. Now days people need porn and sadomasochism to get their rocks off. These methods of "making love" are merely vehicles of self gratification, at the expense of another person who gets harmed in the process.

"Ok fine so it's not ethical, but what's wrong with it if all parties consent?"  


One lady I had the unfortunate pleasure of conversing with on Facebook during the week (check out the conversation, it wasn't your everyday Facebook thread) was a self-confessed participant in "violent pleasures". She stressed to me in no uncertain terms that BDSM is completely fine if the rules of engagement are strictly adhered to. In her words, "safe, sane and consensual is the motto. You miss one of those elements and you're a dud."

I'm not sure how you voice your displeasure to feeling unsafe when you're tied upside down with a gag in your mouth and a blindfold on your eyes. I guess she thinks that if you say nothing you're simply a dud but the act itself is completely fine!

As far as I'm concerned, you can dress it up with all the niceties in the world, but when you strip back the crap, it is still self-proclaimed physical abuse. 

The fact it is consensual doesn't change that. You might have an assault charge thrown out in court if the plaintiff consented to the abuse, but the assault is still assault, whether consented to or not. Would it be ethical if I consented to you slashing my body with a knife? Or if I consented to you punching me in the face? What if I told you I enjoyed it and wanted you to do it? I'd probably wind up in a mental institution. 
According to this excellent article on the issue, one porn researcher recently noted that some online BDSM pornography promote practices and behaviors that would be considered unlawful under the Geneva Convention if they were taking place in a wartime context. 
From the same article: 
"We used to send sadists to a therapist or to prison, not to the bedroom. And 100 million copies of this porn novel (Fifty Shades of Grey) have been unleashed on our society informing people that getting off on hurting someone is romantic and erotic. 
It is a brutal irony that people who scream about water-boarding terrorists are watching and experimenting with sexual practices far more brutal."
What has happened to our moral compass? We have progressed from characterising BDSM as a dark, fringe group of society, one in which was rightfully viewed as immoral, to a now fully fledged activity to make movies about for a "ladies day out"? The compass is malfunctioning when we seem to be more concerned with animal rights and the environment than 100 million human beings reading a story that glorifies domestic sexual abuse. In fact the wider community isn't concerned at all about the latter which is even more worrying. 

So next time someone says something is fine because two people consent to it, ask yourself what they are consenting to. 

All the best,
Dom Meese

No comments:

Post a Comment